39 Duartes, in collaboration with Eliu Almonte, La Galeria, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
At the time of the performance, in early 2013, the US Dollar was worth thirty-nine Dominican Pesos, colloquially known as ‘Duartes’, for the founder of the Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte. The peso has lost value against the dollar over many years, reducing the purchasing power of Dominicans in the global marketplace.
In ’39 Duartes’ a First World Artist sews together a cloth of US Dollars against the backdrop of a video showing her sewing dollars in a variety of public places in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. People react with incredulity at such a wasteful activity, but then are drawn into conversations about inflation, purchasing power and art.
The First World Artist drapes the money cloth over her head so that she cannot see, and proceeds to stuff some of the cloth into her mouth, literally trying to eat money. Enter the Third World Artist. He reclaims value-creating space by painting the First World Artist’s dress with the Dominican flag, creating an art piece that he prices at US$39,000. He then takes the US$ money cloth and transforms it into a collage on canvas, hangs it on the wall, and prices it at RD$39,000 pesos.